Friday, August 31, 2012

The Plant

First we have to talk about how much I love Colbert and his twitter. Happy trails RNC:

So the entire campus here is an arboretum. The Scott Arboretum to be exact. One of my big motives in picking Swat was how much I love the campus. I walk around thinking how much I love the trees and bunnies and flowers.
Yesterday the arboretum did first year plant giveaway! It's kinda darling. Even though pretty much everyone ends up killing their plant, it's a nice way to start. I got a coffee plant (but it doesn't grow beans) and Sadie, my roommate, got a little jade plant. They look so cute and sweet on our windowsill. Our room's not to decorated right now (send me a poster!), but the plants are a nice little touch.
This was on facebook today:

Also yesterday we had a diversity at Swarthmore discussion. It was incredibly interesting and powerful. Another one of my big pull in choosing Swat was the diversity. Waterford was great, but incredibly homogeneous. There's just something incredibly powerful about having a diverse community to be engaged in. (I know, I sound like I drank the koolaid, but I also sincerely believe it).
Here's the community learning guidelines they gave us. I think they're cool:
Be open and honest
Participate fully (at your own comfort level)
Speak from personal experiences: Use "I" statements to share thoughts and feelings.
Listen respectfully
Share air time: encourage others to participate
Be fully present and engaged
Be open to new and different perspectives
Take risks: lean into discomfort
Respect and maintain confidentiality
Ask questions and don't make assumptions
Notice and name group dynamics in the moment
Recognize where you have a deep emotion response
Trust that through dialogue, we will reach deeper levels of understanding and acceptance
Have fun and laugh.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spot It

So first of all you should know that Swarthmore has entirely mixed dorms. Mixed gender and mixed age. So on our floor, there are 8 freshman (the two doubles next to each other), 4 sophomores, 1 junior, and the rest are seniors. So overwhelming majority are seniors. At first I wasn't digging that. Then I realized it's fucking awesome, because every single one has been helpful and kind and friendly. Not like friendly but stay away, but genuinely friendly.
Last night after our drug and alcohol seminar, we played charades. Swatcharades. Out charades included: Hamlet, Fidel Castro and Google. After we got pumped up during that game, we all played a game called spot it. Play the demo right now. It's ridiculous. It's intense and stressful and fun. So much fun.
Anyway, I'm doing well, I'm having fun, please forgive the blogging (might be boring for a while yet). Oh and I passed my swim test! One step closer to graduating!

PS. My dorm is prettier than your dorm

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Made it

Well, I made it. I'm moved into my dorm. It's surprisingly big. Somehow I was expecting teeny tiny hell hole. And it's not that. I've got more room than I have stuff. Seriously. I have one all-but-empty set of shelves, and the bins under my bed are pretty much empty. I'm sure this will change soon enough, but for now...
Monday morning Sam went to his first day of school, and my parents and I went to breakfast. Then they dropped me and my two 50-pound duffels off. And away I went.
Then I flew. Pretty much all day. I went via Phoenix. But I got to Philly like 10:30 Monday night, stayed in one of those cheap next-to-the-airport hotels, and went to Swat yesterday morning. I spent the day moving in (surprisingly easy), starting the orienting, meeting people, getting comfortable. It was exciting. It was good.

PS. I have a mailing address!
Hannah Pugh '16
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guest Post: Jeannie

Since I'm moving into Swat today, I though it'd be a good day to hear from one of my favorite people in the world: Jeannie Woller. I've known Jeannie since, forever (I could write an entire blog about my Jeannie memories), and her blog makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. Literally. Out loud. Jeannie's one of those people you're just really genuinely glad to know. You know those people? Those people that make everything more fun, but are also incredibly thoughtful good friends? She's one of those gems. Jeannie's playing soccer up at Utah State because she's incredible. So she's been at college for a month. Oh, and did I mention she's majoring in creative writing? So here's Jeannie.
[Hint: one in a headlamp]

I've talked to the same people for 11 straight years. That's over a decade. A decade of saying the same stories to the same people. Sometimes there were new people, but they were the weird kids that hadn't been at Waterford since pooping on your own was the biggest news of the day. But young Waterford was the best Waterford. My first friend there came about with a conversation like this:

"You dress like a boy? I do too!"

That was Sydney. We were best friends since day one. And we stayed best friends up until right around the time she stopped dressing like a boy. We didn't stop being BFF's because she stopped dressing like a boy, I promise that wasn't the reason. I think it dealt mainly with the fact that we no longer talked about signing our names in cursive even though our teacher said not to, or staying up past our bedtime creating different scenarios where we'd have to use a broom to turn off the light. Instead the conversation shifted to something much more time consuming. Boys. God's gift to the world. Funny enough, we didn't appreciate God's gift until we were about 12 years old. When the breasts came. Oh boobs. They changed the whole game.

But the point is mainly this: The same people have been with me through every step of my life thus far. Elliot was there second grade on my first day. Elliot was there at graduation, on my last day. But Elliot's not here anymore? That can't be right.

I was safe. I was so safe. I felt safe. Ya know, the type of safe you feel when you get into your bed after a long day. That safe. I had authority. I knew where I stood. I knew my friends. I knew who I was....well I knew who high school Jeannie was.

But then BANG! All the sudden time is gone and college is here and I'm sleeping in a bed that doesn't offer the same safety my last one offered and I can't go into my mama's room and talk to her and I can't howl at the moon with my dog anymore and I don't know anyone and Waterford won't be waiting for my arrival the Tuesday after Labor day and then all the sudden I'm terrified that high school might be as good as it gets.

So I felt sorry for myself when I first moved away. I was scared and I pitied myself for it. I put on a brave face, tried to make people laugh, and hid it well enough. I cried, sure, who doesn't when change happens. Not full out bawling with the snot trail and everything, but the subtle "oh no I just yawned" crying.

But then I realized. What's the point? I'm growing up and that's okay. We can't know what's going to happen or where we're going and the hard-to-grasp knowledge is that it's okay! In fact. It's necessary.

I'm figuring it out. I really think I am. I'm putting myself out there. Who cares what people say, because I'm me. I'm college Jeannie.

Besides. New people means I can start telling all my stories again, and it is about freaking time.

PS. Photos stolen off Facebook. Fair and square.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Happy Getting On a Plane and Flying to Philadelphia Day!
I wrote this poem on Saturday as a mimic of the Franz Wright poem "Self Portrait at 40" from his collection The Beforelife.

Self Portrait Before Leaving Home

She’s in between now
out of the house
not quite grown

no longer the little girl
in the photograph
wearing blue
eyes, cowboy boots,
a Cinderella dress
sitting on a rocking horse

rocking to sleep
rocking the cradle

She’s nearly a woman
                     a storykeeper 

with traces of babyfire

But where now
is that Cinderella dress –
it looked so well-worn
               so well-loved

At times it’s enough
to know someone else
gives a damn

at times
it’s not
and she feeds
from the roots
calls upon the past
to lead her

where she will carry
the quiet strength
she barely sees:

there is hope
each time a star shoots

and reverence
for what brings tears

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote Sunday

I leave tomorrow. As in, in 24.5 hours I will be on a plane. Holyshit.
Yesterday I had a funny moment. I'd packed all my clothes into my duffels, but the family was going to a nice-ish dinner so I was trying on the dresses that remained to see if any would work. I put on what is actually my favorite dress, but is also that mix between casual and formal that makes it impossible to wear. Anyway, I put it on and I looked in the mirror and literally my first thought was if I get married next summer I'm wearing this. Which is ridiculously absurd. I'm not ready to get married and I don't want to get married and I don't have anyone I'd want to marry and I don't feel even a little bit grown up enough to get married, etc etc. The whole thing was stupid. But it totally threw me for a loop that that was my first thought. And now it makes me laugh.
This week I had one good cry. Which is to be expected, I think. One good cry is a good thing, every once in a while. It was after I'd said all my goodbyes. I'd been cleaning/packing all night and I was overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done, overwhelmed by the goodbyes I'd been saying all week, overwhelmed by the lack of control I was feeling, overwhelmed by not knowing what the next week, month, year holds. So I got in the shower and cried. And then I got out and curled up, in the most literal sense of the phrase. I'd been cleaning out things, and among the piles on my bed was this yellow packet about and of poetry that I'd gotten in creative writing and saved, because it's lovely. In it was this poem by Anne Sexton that made me feel a little better. (And now I'm feeling good and ready to go again).

Just Once

Just once I knew what life was for.
In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


All I've done is clean and pack. Seriously. My room is cleaned out. Like someone else could move in if they wanted to, there's just a little bit of my stuff here and there. And I'm packed. I got myself 2 of these and filled them full. Maybe I brought more books than shoes (I definitely brought more books than shoes). And I packed everything including my bedspread in these. Why hasn't anyone told me about compression bags? They're the best things ever. There's no way I could have packed for college without them.
Anyway, that's all. Boring post. I'm going to big fancy Italian dinner with my family tonight. And then tomorrow night all my favorite people are coming over to say goodbye. Then Monday morning I leave. 
I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shopping for college

So I've been sorta trying to shop for college, sorta. It's kinda tough.
Have I told you how I'm going out alone? Almost everyone I know has parents accompanying them, but it didn't seem to make sense to me to do it that way:
1) It's a $400 plane ticket.
2) It would be Judy and I land at night, take a taxi to campus the next morning, and she has to be gone by noon. So not even 24 hours together.
3) I don't have that much stuff and moving in can't really be that hard.
4) I'd rather say goodbye at home and be excited to be there, and really be there, not trying to say goodbye to my mom as I'm arriving at college.

So anyway, I've been doing pretty well with this whole college thing. Low anxiety levels lately. Everyone keeps saying "I can't believe this is real" and I'm like "Really? Feel pretty real and sunken in to me." I think this is partly because I had kinda a hard time when school ended, but that was that and I actually dealt with it fine, and I've said goodbye to that. Now it's just getting excited for the going forward. But I think I'm doing good also partly because I've been channeling any anxiety into school shopping.
I haven't even bought that much. Some jeans, because now I need to wear real clothes, and a few tops, and a black dress, and that computer, but not that much. Mostly I've been making lists of things to buy when I get there / ordering things online. Yes, I do need that spa towel wrap. Yes, I do need that Southern Utah poster. Yes, I do need that Anthropologie bedspread.
Retail therapy is a real thing.

PS. Pretty sure I need this too, if anyone wants to buy me a going away present (Kat).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Women in the West

This week I've been packing, cleaning, and saying goodbye. Saying goodbye is the hardest, but also the best, because I've gotten to spend time will all my favorite women. I've been realizing that I was fortunate to be raised a woman in the West. There's some kind of depth or groundedness or fineness or something about women in the west. 
Women in the west taught me about the power found in a community of women, the strength housed inside a woman's heart, the comfort in nurturing and being nurtured. I've grown up around women who let their hair go grey and their skin get wrinkled; who know how and when to ask for help; who taught me to cook, do laundry, and care for children; who reach out and share their love for me frequently and freely. My mentors are examples of badass feminism and housewife femininity. Each has a womanness deep inside her that doesn't have to be defined by her dress size or her salary or her minivan. Each connects to herself as a woman in her own way. 
The most important thing I've learned from women in the west is to do hard things. I've learned to do hard things because they hurt and cleanse and build up strength. I've learned to do hard things because hard things happen and the only option is to face up to them. I've learned to do hard things because doing hard things makes a woman better. 
There is strength and courage that women in the west hold deep in their souls. I have it too. I will carry it with me, call upon it often. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Made me smile [part 2]

Sometimes I like to remember all the things that made me smile. It makes life a little bit sweeter.
So here's some things that recently made me smile:
1) Remember my 5-year old cousin Lizzy? She's the funniest, weirdest, quirkiest kid, and I adore her for it. Their family is redoing the kitchen, so I was helping out a little bit with the kids. The first time Lizzy got in my car, the radio started playing and she asked "Do you have We Are Young?" I was a really surprised that she knew that song, but I had it. So I turned it on. Then she said "Will you play it loud and put down the windows?" Which I did. Then I got to watch in my rearview mirror as she sang along. From then on, every time we got in the car, she wanted to play that song, loud, with the windows down. "It's my favorite song."
2) Remember all that babysitting I did? Well, I spent it all in one place. On one of these. And I absolutely love it. I got the 11-inch one, and I just love having a very small computer - smaller than my journal - that I can fit in my bag and it will go anywhere, and it was just so worth it.
3) Remember when I asked for dark chocolate? Kat and I got breakfast the day she left. She gave me 3 bars of dark chocolate. Because she's the best
4) Shark week. Who knew how incredibly awesome it was? Not me. I love shark week.
5) I got to go see my really good friend Jeannie's college soccer game. That's right. I have a friend playing college soccer. It was so incredibly cool to see her in her new jersey, and see her team (and see her team beat Utah). 
6) Last Thursday night, Judy and I stayed up to 1 watching Toy Story 3. And it was really sweet. I've been spending little bits of time here and there with my family, and I've appreciated that. Also, it was the perfect time to watch that movie, because it was like "Andy goes to college" and I'm going to college in five days (!), which was nice. But now I'll have to put things in the attic.
7) I took Tinker for a trail ride. It was a good 41/2 hour ride, and it was really nice to be on a horse in the mountains again. I really do love that horse. And those mountains.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter at a funeral

So, for our senior gift, we made a scholarship in the name of Linda Kitchen, who was a dear women who worked at Waterford/took care of all of us, who had recently been diagnosed with Jakob's disease. Once we decided that, I suggested to the student body president that we write a letter to Linda explaining our choice of gift. She was like "okay, do you wanna do that?" So me and my dear friend/phenomenally talented writer Emma (remember her?) set about writing that. What we came out with was an incredibly beautiful letter (if I do say so myself). Anyway, Linda Kitchen died last Thursday and on Sunday I got a call asking me to read that letter at her funeral today. So here we go. I don't want to post the whole letter here, but here's part:
We want you to know that you are missed and loved. And we want you to know that you made an impact on each of our lives. You knew our names from day one and instantly made it clear that you were there to help and support. Not one of us ever felt hesitant to come to you; we knew we would be heard and helped. You were the perfect example of generosity, compassion, and kindness. 
We haven’t sufficient means to express our gratitude for the many years you spent offering your support. There is no way we could ever repay your countless hours of selfless service, your genuine encouragement, the compassion and comfort you showed for our tears, and the perfect solutions to all our unsolvable problems. And of course, we can never thank you enough for your constant reassurance that no matter what, everything would be okay. When you told us that, we believed you, because you were always the one who made everything okay. 
We know we will never find a way to thank you for everything you have done for us, but nevertheless, we want to try. When our class was discussing our senior gift, we without pause unanimously jumped to one proposal: The Linda Kitchen Scholarship. We know that, because of your example, we are made into better, happier people. And now, we want to provide for future students the opportunities that have meant so much to us. We want them to have the home and support you provided for us.

Pretty, huh?
One problem: I'm kinda a pathological funeral crier. I've literally cried at the funeral of someone I never met. Funerals just pull up these emotions in me that I don't carry around every day, that I can't carry around every day. Generally speaking, I avoid funerals like a plague. But I don't think I'm being selfish in accepting the invitation to read this letter, and if I thought that I couldn't do this, I would have stepped back. I believe there's a reason I got that call; I believe that I can do this well. The letter was my idea, and in the first draft, before I'd enlisted Emma, every we was an I. That letter is as much my personal thank you as it is from the class. And for that reason, I believe that I can do this better than anyone else.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Come From

Harley & Jane
So my cute friends over at Harley and Jane have started posting journal prompts every weekend. Usually I'm like "oh that was a nice prompt" but never get around to it. Today I finally did. Albeit in a poem.

         Sagebrush child

A taxi ride to church – for a concert – but the driver shouted out the window,
asking me to pray for him;
I didn’t know how to identify myself as a nonbeliever.

For weeks after I thought of him, of his simple request:
my prayer. Why me? He chose me – of all the people in his cab, he asked for my prayers.
I, who gave up Sunday dresses for coffee shops and red wine; I, who put god in a box
labeled Do Not Open; I, who suffered through Sunday school and Sacrament meeting; I, who


those paralyzing times, when it rained enough to build an ark;
when I wanted to ask everyone to pray for me, to think of me, to practice yoga
for me; when I needed to believe someone thought for me, lest I’d find myself
too weak to carry the knowledge that no one did.

And my heart ached for my cab driver who
needed to believe I prayed for him in a church.

I wanted to build something: a monument, house, or city.
Instead I went all alone toward the mountain, each step forward by a power,
a pain fifteen years solidified. This is what personal grieving looks like:

I knelt, picked up one rock, then another, stacking. Drowning
myself in repetition. Cracks I filled with flowers – red, yellow, purple, white
careful not to damage their stems
or myself.

I found the courage to pray aloud:
I was born in the sagebrush mountains

for summer nights that crickets lulled me to sleep, and
winter’s sound of snow and branches and fallen leaves that
symphonied my lullaby.

I was born to run in the dirt until a thorn caught my heel,
in a place where often the gate was left open; born to learn
at a very young age that anything can come through
good or bad:

warm heart, broken heart.
I was born
to be there
in beauty and fury
under that twofisted bluesky

in view, at hand -

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quote Sunday

On the recommendation of my English teacher, I'm reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. And I'm totally loving it. I have this streak of outdoorsy-ness from growing up near the mountains, and whenever I read it I find myself planning my next backpacking adventure. Why not do Zions in October, when I've got a 10 day break. Or maybe Sam and I could go down to Patagonia at Christmas for a week or two. And I'd really like to do NOLS Australia backpacking and sea kayaking this summer. I really am going to miss the mountains and hiking.
Anyway, along with appealing to every backpacking-fiber in my body, this book is beautiful and touching and excellent. Probably my best read this summer. I love this part:

Each night the black sky and the bright stars were my stunning companions; occasionally I'd see their beauty and solemnity so plainly that I'd realize in a piercing way that my mother was right. That someday I would be grateful and that in fact I was grateful now, that I felt something growing in me that was strong and real. 
(emphasis added)

I've been writing a lot lately - blogging, journaling, and poetry mostly - and I've found myself going over the past year again and again. I think it's about wanting to know where I'm at before I start again. When I look at this past year - look at the bad, ugly, and terrifying as well as the beautiful, good, and growing - I feel like that. Like something strong and real came into me this past year; something that I will need and rely on in the upcoming year. Last night this is what I wrote in my journal: In the end, all is well... because I unmoored then grounded myself; because I messed up then shot for the stars; because in the midst of feeling totally alone, I found those who deeply, sincerely, tenderly care for me, probably more than I deserve; because I started to understand how to be my parents' daughter; because I found creative writing, and that saved me; because there is quiet character and strength that come from doing hard things. This year built something inside me that I needed. Strong and real.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I'm incredibly offended by One Direction

Have I ever told you that I find the One Direction song "What Makes You Beautiful" the most offensive thing on the radio? Because I do. It's like the greatest abuse of the way girls are brought up with body image issues that I've ever come across. Because the appeal is that for all those girls who don't think they're pretty because they don't look like the girl on Cosmo - those girls can pretend that they're actually beautiful and just don't know it.
And I'm not saying that this song is for ugly girls to feel good about themselves, because mostly its not. Mostly it's for perfect normal, probably pretty girls to feel good about themselves because the media treats them like shit. And I'm just offended that some fucking boy band took the fact that so few girls think they're beautiful because of the media, exploited those girls desire to be told they're beautiful, and then made a lot of money.
But I'm also offended by this song because the flip side is that if a girl knows she's beautiful, then she's obviously not. Which discourages sense of self-beauty. And that's fucked up too. Why can't a girl know she's pretty and just rock it? Knowing you're pretty doesn't make you less pretty. Why give a girl one more reason to feel bad about herself?
I really hate this song.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thoughts on a hike / Goodbye to Kat

I'm up early this morning. Kat leaves today. Have I cried? Oh, yes I have. Which is funny, because really it isn't that sad. It's exciting. But saying goodbye is sad. Sometime I just have to remind myself I'm not dying, I'm going to college; she's not dying, she's going to college; our lives aren't over, they're moving on.
Somedays I feel like a fucking mess. Lord knows where I'm at or what I'm really feeling.
The other day, Kat and I were on a hike and she asked me, sorta out of the blue "what are you most excited for?" I thought about it for a moment and decided I'm most excited for new ground to grow in. Life has been extraordinarily comfortable and reliable the past years. Which is great for a time, but there's also this growth curve, and I feel like I've gotten to the part with a low slope. I'm most excited to be in a new, challenging environment, where life is difficult and rewarding and the growth curve is steep.
On that same hike we were talking about what we'd be leaving behind, and I told her about this thought I'd been having: only remember with gratitude. I'm walking away from a lot of things, and I'm realizing that there are a lot of things that I should be letting go of. I don't need to be angry about the way things were handled by certain people, or to regret a few key things I said, or to be upset about wrongs far in the past. It's not worth it anymore. If I'm going to remember, it's not going to be with negative feelings about the bad or longing for the things/people I miss, it will be with pure gratitude for the beautiful things/people/experiences that played roles in my life.
Also, for some reason, I just keep thinking of this:
(from Franz Wright's One Heart)
I think it's my favorite line of poetry ever, in the history of ever. Really. Like it could be my next tattoo I like it so much. There's something so incredibly kind about it. It reminds me that I need mercy from everyone: my family, my dear and not-so-dear friends, myself. Reminds me that it's okay that sometimes I feel like a fucking mess, because I can ask for and deserve mercy. Reminds me to be soft on myself because I'm a one-hearted human.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Travel Journal Epic

I learned in Vienna that travel journaling is not for the faint of heart. Normally my journals aren't all that pretty at all. But travel journals are all out: glue dots, glue sticks, markers, crayons, pens, pencils, stencils, etc. Things get glued in, drawn out, explained over and over. My travel journals of this summer was two volumes. Because I'm a champion. Next time I go on a big trip, I'm going to take a polorid-esque camera and put prints in my journal. Anyway, here's some pictures of this summer's journals:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coconut Oil

I'm addicted to coconut oil.
I first came across coconut oil when my friend Chan brought it on senior trip to use, among other things, as lotion. I thought it was a little weird, but I found it made a great tanning oil. She made the point "things get absorbed through your skin. Why put anything on your skin you wouldn't eat?" And I kinda understood that. I mean, I don't totally agree with it, and I wouldn't go totally hippy only-use-food-for-cosmetics, but there is something appealing about cutting out chemicals absorbed by your body (have I mentioned that I only use vegan shampoo/conditoner?). So I bought some, and found that I love coconut oil.
Coconut oil makes my skin super soft, and I perpetually smell like coconuts, but not in a gross sugary-lotion kind of way. It's awesome on hair/scalp (leave it on over night), and I like that I can make pancakes with it. There are a billion things one might do with coconut oil. Here's 122.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The best letter I've ever read, ever

Dear Hypothetically Gay Son,

You're gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing.  It was like when we're at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter and instead of asking me about my meal you said you were gay. I don't know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you're gay… because that is what it sounds like in my head right now. "My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay."

Let me be perfectly clear. I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you're gay. I'm just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night's dinner. Have I said "surprise" enough in this paragraph? One more time... surprise!

OK. Let's get a few things straight about how things are going to be. 
  1. Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You're going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here.  You need to know with every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home you are safe and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this.
  2. I am still, as always, your biggest defender.  Just because you're gay doesn't mean you're any less capable of taking care of/defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you, in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I will go to war for you.
  3. If you're going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry kiddo. Thems are the breaks. I couldn't have girls in my room with the door shut, you don't get to have boys.
  4. You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it's going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let's give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know. 
That's enough for now.  Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account.  I'll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn't be more proud of the people you've become.



P.S. Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality act of 2020 you're legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool huh?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Beginning of Goodbyes

I've started saying my goodbyes. I'm pathetic when it comes to goodbyes. Like really. I can have known someone for a week and I will cry when I say goodbye to them. I'm not sure why I'm so bad at goodbyes, but I always end up in tears.
So last week, my neighbor Tanner left for his mission to Argentina. Tanner's that family friend neighbor whose age corresponds to mine. He went to Waterford in elementary school, and we were in the same grade. We go way back. My first memory of Tanner is of coloring together in nursery. That's how far back we go.
So anyway, Tanner went on his mission. And that was confusing for me. Because he's always been my peer. Like there was a period of time when I was younger (as in, much younger) that I was convinced we'd get married. And I'm off here saying things like I'm going to major in creative writing and then go to grad schools and maybe by the time I'm 30 I'll have a real job and Tanner's like I'm going to go on a mission to wherever the church tells me to go and I'm not going to see my family for two years and I'm going to learn Spanish and get up at 6:30 every day and have companions that I may or may not like. It just blew my mind.
So I said goodbye to Tanner.
And then Friday night, Alex, Kat, and I went to the Melting Pot to say goodbye to Alex. (Melting pot is kind of our thing if you haven't noticed yet). And that was confusing. It was really sad, you know, because we won't see each other for so long and because we're going our own ways, but it was also horribly exciting, because Alex is off to have such wonderful experiences - we all are. And yet, it doesn't make it easier to say goodbye.
Someone should get me some dark chocolate: Kat leaves on Friday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quote Sunday

Right now I'm reading The Shipping News by Anne Proulx. It was in that pile of books I got a month ago, and it's just a really good novel. I love those novels. Not especially famous or moving or life changing ones, but well-written, good story, excellent character novels. Most of the time, that's all I need.
Anyway, there's a part in there I like. It says:

We face up to awful things because we can't go around them, or forget them. The sooner you get over it, the sooner you can say 'Yes, it happened, and there's nothing I can do about it,' the sooner you can get on with your own life... Why we have to get over, somehow we do. Even the worst things.

So it's kinda callous, but I like it for the same reason I like "so it goes" in Slaughterhouse-Five and "you can get used to anything" in The Disappearance. There's something soothing about the human capacity to cope with the ugliest things. Something nice in knowing that, like Job, we can survive when our worlds crumble. It's never a promise that things won't hurt unbelievably much, rather a promise that the worst can be survived. And some part of me just loves that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baby Bird

On Thursday, I rescued a baby bird.
See, it went like this:
When we were leaving the nail salon, the 7-year old I was babysitting spotted this guy on the sidewalk:

And obviously, we couldn't just leave it. We spent like 10 minutes trying to figure out what to do. She was almost in tears with the idea of this baby bird not getting back to it's family. I called my friend Zel, who I thought would know what to do with something like this, but alas, she didn't answer. So I did what any sane person would do and called the fire department. It went like this:

Hannah: Hi, this is the non-emergency number, right?
Operator: Yes
Hannah: Okay, well I know this sounds incredibly stupid, but there's this baby bird, and it's on the sidewalk and appears to have fallen out of its nest. It doesn't seem hurt, and what should I do?
Operator: Well, I can send out an officer to come look.
Hannah: Is that like normal? Because I don't want to waste an officer's time over some stupid baby sparrow.
Operator: Yeah, we've got an animal control unit who do things like that. 
Hannah: Are they busy?
Operator: No, they'll be there in a few minutes.
Hannah: Alright, thank you so much.

The girl I was babysitting didn't want to leave until the officer got there. At some point, the mom bird showed up and squawked at us, but I couldn't see the nest. We waited for the officer for 25 minutes. During that time, every 5 minutes, the girl would say "he's never going to come" and burst into tears. I kept reassuring her that he'd come, but she didn't quite believe me until he showed up.
The officer showed up, picked up the baby bird, and was going to take it away. Good news. Problem solved. Then the girl asks, "will the baby bird die?" and the officer says, "I don't know, maybe. We'll do all we can to save it though." And she burst into tears at that. I could have punched the officer. After the ordeal of the baby bird, who the fuck says maybe to that question? Would it kill him to sugar-coat things for a seven year old? Really. She should have this image of a baby bird that went on to live a very happy domestic life, and should be able to feel like she saved the bird. Not maybe.
Once the officer left, I took her to ice cream. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

A New Way of Journaling

About a week ago, I realized that my practice of journaling right before I go to bed will probably not work in college, for a number of reasons: going to bed is a liberal idea, who wants to be the weird girl who journals every night, not sure I want to loudly proclaim that I have a journal and this is where it is. So anyway, I've been getting in the habit of carrying my journal around with me, and just taking 10 minutes during my day to find a spot, sit, and journal. And I kind of love it.
I love having my journal with me all the time. I love the writing that's going on. You know how late at night everything seems more. My journal is so much more down-to-earth and authentic than it was before. It's not just I have a lot of emotion and now I'm writing, it's just whatever happened to be in my head those 10 minutes. And I like that a lot more.
Also, my new journal is my favorite one yet. It's this one. I love it because the little pictures are good prompt options, if I need a place to direct my thoughts, but they're not overwhelming. So sometimes the journaling has nothing to do with the picture, and that's just fine, because the picture is just a nice decoration. Or sometimes, the picture made me think of something, so the journaling is related to the picture in my mind, but not in anyone else's. And sometimes the picture is a straight up prompt. It varies. I like this new way of journaling.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So. Yeah.

Guess what I finally did:

Also, I have a roommate. Actually I have 3. I got placed in Wharton, which happens to be the dorm I wanted. Have I told you about the one person I actually know at Swat? She went to Waterford and graduated a year earlier than me. She lived in Wharton last year and loved it, which is awesome. Anyway, as indicated above, I'm in a quad. The way the quads are designed - think about it this way: take a room, cut it in half, and cut one of the halves in half, so you have two quarters and a half. Two tiny singles and a double that you have to pass through to get to the singles. First semester I'm in the double, then second I switch to a single. Anyway, the roomies seem pretty cool. One grew up in Singaplore, the other has met Biden, and the last wore black lipstick to prom. So. Yeah. Life's full right now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Caine's Arcade

Let me tell you about the best money I've spent in a long, long time.
My friend emailed me this link. This kid is the most darling thing I've come across. The calculators to prove it's a real fun pass are my favorite. So watch the video, make your heart happy, and pitch in a little to send him to college.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Six Parts

Here's a poem I wrote in Europe.

My Story in Six Parts

Lacing shoes
her baby she soothes
with songs

that sail seas on ships
of amber under a sky

so meager I wish to fit in
little places. Let me make myself

small; curl
my knees wedge myself

in. I will be suited for
cracks in the wood
of the alter. Itsy bitsy spider

smokes a cigar, drinks scotch
and soda while I promise once more
the view of the city is worth the climb,


can't find what I found
up the mountain
and churches don't have wifi

What I found was - - - -
well it had yellow wings
(yellow house yellow corn yellow bellied).

I felt whispery
bells ringing ringing ringing
(red wine red rocks red roofs -red cars-

red cars crash.)
Been away from home too long:
ran away topless and barefoot.

The soles of my feet plea
for roots

for a rest

on the beach, still wearing my coat,
staring at the northern sea
(the color of dead eyes) asking for more

than I can have: love me with Your
big heart love me for my small one.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Domestic Goddess part III

Three weeks from today I go to college. That's pretty cool and stuff. I still haven't bought a plane ticket. Or bedding. Or started packing even. I'm a little behind. But it's okay.
I'm babysitting again this week, which makes me incredibly happy. It's my favorite summer job ever. It's just so much fun!

So Friday Kat, Lorin, and I are up at the cabin. Judy hasn't arrived with the food yet, it's 5:00 and we're kinda hungry. So someone suggests, "why don't we go to Kamas and get pie?" We all thought it was a great idea, so we got in the car and headed out. On the way, we called Judy, who had Sam and his friend in the car. They wanted pie too. Judy was, to say the least, not thrilled about everyone eating pie before dinner, but dropped the boys off nonetheless.
Once he got there, Sam decided he wanted cobbler. They didn't have cobbler. So I promised him I'd make some. So yesterday, I made blackberry peach cobbler (yay Whole Foods app!). And it was damn good. Also really easy. Here's the recipe and a picture.

Blackberry and Peach Buttermilk Cobbler
Serves 8


1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 pound peaches, pitted and thickly sliced
1 (6-ounce) carton blackberries
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into large pieces
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups lowfat buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together maple syrup and cornstarch. Add peaches and blackberries and toss gently to coat; set aside.

Put butter into an 8-inch round or square glass or metal cake pan. Heat in oven just until butter is melted, 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in buttermilk and mix until just combined to make a thick batter. Pour into pan over melted butter without stirring. Scatter reserved peach mixture evenly over top of batter and bake until golden and bubbly, 50 to 55 minutes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quote Sunday

I read this poem at some point during my European travels (it's mentioned in Poetry as Survival) and it's my new favorite. Not that it's a poem that touches me incredibly deeply (didn't even make me cry), but because it's possibly the best-crafted poem I've come across. I read it over and over again and each time think to myself how did she make it so damn good?
It's a little long, so enjoy.

Having it Out with Melancholy

by Jane Kenyon

If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.
A. P. CHEKHOV The Cherry Orchard

When I was born, you waited 
behind a pile of linen in the nursery, 
and when we were alone, you lay down 
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore.

And from that day on 
everything under the sun and moon 
made me sad -- even the yellow 
wooden beads that slid and spun 
along a spindle on my crib.

You taught me to exist without gratitude. 
You ruined my manners toward God:
"We're here simply to wait for death; 
the pleasures of earth are overrated."

I only appeared to belong to my mother, 
to live among blocks and cotton undershirts 
with snaps; among red tin lunch boxes
and report cards in ugly brown slipcases. 
I was already yours -- the anti-urge, 
the mutilator of souls.

           2  BOTTLES

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin, 
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft. 
The coated ones smell sweet or have 
no smell; the powdery ones smell 
like the chemistry lab at school 
that made me hold my breath.


You wouldn't be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

           4  OFTEN

Often I go to bed as soon after dinner 
as seems adult
(I mean I try to wait for dark)
in order to push away 
from the massive pain in sleep's 
frail wicker coracle.


Once, in my early thirties, I saw 
that I was a speck of light in the great 
river of light that undulates through time.

I was floating with the whole 
human family. We were all colors -- those 
who are living now, those who have died, 
those who are not yet born. For a few

moments I floated, completely calm, 
and I no longer hated having to exist.

Like a crow who smells hot blood 
you came flying to pull me out 
of the glowing stream.
"I'll hold you up. I never let my dear 
ones drown!" After that, I wept for days.

       6  IN AND OUT

The dog searches until he finds me 
upstairs, lies down with a clatter 
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

Sometimes the sound of his breathing 
saves my life -- in and out, in 
and out; a pause, a long sigh. . . . 

           7  PARDON

A piece of burned meat 
wears my clothes, speaks 
in my voice, dispatches obligations 
haltingly, or not at all.
It is tired of trying 
to be stouthearted, tired 
beyond measure.

We move on to the monoamine 
oxidase inhibitors. Day and night 
I feel as if I had drunk six cups 
of coffee, but the pain stops
abruptly. With the wonder 
and bitterness of someone pardoned 
for a crime she did not commit 
I come back to marriage and friends, 
to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back 
to my desk, books, and chair.

           8  CREDO

Pharmaceutical wonders are at work 
but I believe only in this moment 
of well-being. Unholy ghost, 
you are certain to come again.

Coarse, mean, you'll put your feet 
on the coffee table, lean back, 
and turn me into someone who can't 
take the trouble to speak; someone 
who can't sleep, or who does nothing 
but sleep; can't read, or call 
for an appointment for help.

There is nothing I can do 
against your coming. 
When I awake, I am still with thee.


High on Nardil and June light 
I wake at four, 
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air 
presses through the screen 
with the wild, complex song 
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment. 
What hurt me so terribly 
all my life until this moment? 
How I love the small, swiftly 
beating heart of the bird 
singing in the great maples; 
its bright, unequivocal eye.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mostly bullshit anyway

So I moderately secretly have some anxiety issues (maybe not so secretly, but let me have this one, okay?) Most of my anxiety issues stem from things that will be happening in the near future, things that aren't bad so much as things that I have no control over.
My first serious attack of anxiety was two years ago on my last day in Vienna. The rest of the group had left, I had one day alone, and I spent that entire day wandering the city I'd grown to love, having anxiety attacks at all my favorite places, and considering getting a paper bag to breathe in to aid the tightness in my chest.
Since then, I go though phases of serious anxiety and phases without, but like the yin and yang symbol, the periods with have brief isles of relief and the periods without are studded with nights I'm up until 2 or 3 or 4.
So naturally, this whole college thing has been a roller coaster of anxiety. I was good the first month after I got in (better than good, cloud nine), but spent January anxiety-ridden. I got over that and had smooth sailing through May which was ridden with a these-people-are-too-smart-for-me anxiety that only comes from slightly-pretentious teenagers in a Class of 2016 Facebook group coupled with occasional articles you come across like "10 most grueling colleges in the country" (yeah, we were number 4).
Anyway, this anxiety being on and off mirrors my binging on the Facebook group. Recently, someone posted a quote from the book they were reading that said some pretentious things about Swarthmore. A discussion ensued and when the book title and author were mentioned, I realized I'd been on a panel discussion with the author. And that was one of those Anxiety Be Gone moments. Because the panel wasn't really that big a deal at all. But saying it, it sounded prestigious and intelligent and like the kind of thing a Swarthmore student should be saying. And wierdly, that was reassuring, because I realized that all those thing that sounded good on paper, that had been giving me so much anxiety, they're mostly bullshit anyway.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Utah Shakes

The Shakespeare festival was so super fun! Mostly because the people I was with are so incredibly awesome. Half of the group was graduated. And it was just so good to spend time with them again. I've really missed all the people I used to see every day. It's dumb to realize that if I ever want to see them again I have to like make the effort - that it won't ever just happen again. 

Also, since we were all graduated, we took to calling the teacher-chaperone by his first name. Ha. 

So the highlight of the festival was Titus Andronicus. I know, right? Titus Andronicus. Shakespearean slasher. But this production was so visually astounding. There was so much power and humanity in the movement. Which was pretty incredible.
Since it's a Shakespeare, we saw Titus in the outdoor theater. Or at least the first half. Before the show it flash flood rained. Rivers in the streets. But it calmed down and so they did it outside. It didn't rain for most of the first half, but there was thunder and lightening the whole time. Which was the most incredible effect. It made the play. And then, the last scene before intermission it starts raining. And it's this big climax and Marcus screams "Let it storm". Which was just incredible. The actors faces' were wet and shining in the light and it looked like tears and rain and my God the weather just made the play. I wish everyone could see Titus Andronicus in a rainstorm. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Lawyer's Daughter

Today, I am thinking about what a long time 15 years is. A decade and a half. I’m also thinking about this essay I found that my dad wrote. The printer date is December 16, 1996, which means our family looked kinda like this:

Anyway, this essay made me smile for a two reasons:
1) It’s about me. Who doesn’t love things written about them?
2) People tell me all the time “you’re just like your dad.” And I guess I just loved reading this and realizing that it sounded a lot like something I would have written. Which is funny, but also a quite lovely.

A Lawyer’s Daughter

              The seventeenth century Jesuits established their place in history by devising schemes to make Christianity more palatable for Christians. The project of the theologians was, in short, to help Christians circumvent their moral obligations – an enterprise to which they devoted substantial thought and effort. Take the sometimes onerous duty of attending mass. According to one Jesuitical doctrine, a Christian could considerably shorten the time required to fulfill this responsibility by positioning himself at a place where he was able to hear two masses being conducted by two different priests, the once beginning at just the point where the other reaches the Elevation. For two halves of a mass, quite naturally, make a whole one. Indeed, he could attend mass in a manner of minutes if he could find four masses going on at the same time, so arranged that one is beginning when the next has reached the Gospel, the third the Consecration, and the last the Communion. The Jesuits’ ingenuity was not limited to minimizing he burdensomeness of Christian rituals, however. In fact, it extended into the realm of moral duties as well. For example, while the Jesuits conceded that dueling was morally prohibited, they also conceded that God did not forbid wielding one’s sword in self-defense. Thus, while a Christian could not directly challenge an adversary to a duel, he was permitted to wander around in an area where he suspected to encounter his adversary, and, if unjustly attacked, defend himself. Or consider the Jesuits’ solution for evading the ban on usury. They invented an instrument called the “Mohatra contract,” whereby a would-be borrower “sells” something to the would-be lender for the amount of the loan and, by way of repayment with interest, buys it back sometime later at a higher price.
              The modern-day equivalents of the Jesuit theologians are, of course, lawyers. “You would like to change your visiting visa into a green card, but seem to have no grounds for doing so? Well, why don’t you make some outrageous statement that would subject you to political persecution should you return to your home country, then apply for political asylum.” Or: “You want to make a pornographic movie but are worried about an obscenity suit? Well, why not pepper it with some valuable social message – quotations from the Bible, say, or Oprah – so that it no longer qualifies as obscene.” Or: “You would like to disinherit your wife and leave your property to your favorite cousin instead, but you realize that the law automatically awards a fixed percentage of your estate to her? Well, why don’t you just put all your assets in a rust, make yourself the trustee, and your favorite cousin the beneficiary.”
              Hannah is blessed (if indeed it is a blessing) with the lawyer/Jesuit knack for rearranging, recharacterizing, and restructuring events to get what she wants. I hope she’s not destined for a career as a casuistic theologian or a corporate lawyer, but these stories suggest maybe she is:
              1. Last summer Hannah spent a few days with her Nanna and Bumpa. One evening Nanna and Bumpa had an engagement which they didn’t think Hannah would enjoy, so they arranged for their neighbors, Mark and Gina, to tend her. At one point that evening, Hannah took Gina into the living room and told her she wanted to play there. Because Gina thought the living room was perhaps not the best place to play with a rambunctious two year old, she told Hannah, “Let’s go play in the room where Mark is.” Undeterred, Hannah dashed out of the living room and promptly returned – pulling Mark by the finger. “Mark in dis room,” she announced. “We play now?”
              2. Whenever Bumpa visits, he can count on Hannah greeting him with a big hug and a kiss. He can also count on the first word out of her mouth, uttered ever so coyly, being: “Treeeeat?” Hannah, in turn, can count on Bumpa having a treat in his pocket – and on him giving it to her importuning. After four or five lifesavers her Mom usually steps in and tells her she’s had enough for one day. How does Hannah cope with this apparent setback? Easy, she asks her Bumpa for the lifesavers, telling him, “I just hold ‘em.” When Bumpa acquiesces in this request, as he invariably does, Hannah proceeds to peel back the wrapping, exposing the top of one lifesaver, which she licks persistently until it’s gone. Don’t worry, Mom, she’s not eating any treats.
              3. Her mom was sitting on the floor playing with Samuel a few weeks ago when Hannah scurried into the room, spotted Samuel’s bottle on the tale, and asked if she could feed it to him. “Not right now,” her mom said. “It’s for when he’s crying and sad.” Hannah pondered that answer for only a second or two, then leaned over and gave Samuel a hug – a hug which looked, at first, like a typical expression of sister-brother affection, but which concluded with a vigorous neck wrenching. “He crying Mama,” she said innocently. “I give him bottle now?”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creativity Day 30: Written At Random

Well, this concludes the creativity challenge.
This is a poem I wrote on the back of a "tell us what you think" card when the girl I was babysitting was in music class:

Fiddle Sticks

Past where the waves
break, are broken:
broken feet broken neck
        broken heart -
does that make you special?
In faraway places
I house half a self
who I don't know.
Think of that
while you husk corn,
fall in love
with the not-me.